US8034136B2 - Methods of fabricating superabrasive articles - Google Patents

Methods of fabricating superabrasive articles Download PDF

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US8034136B2
US8034136B2 US11983619 US98361907A US8034136B2 US 8034136 B2 US8034136 B2 US 8034136B2 US 11983619 US11983619 US 11983619 US 98361907 A US98361907 A US 98361907A US 8034136 B2 US8034136 B2 US 8034136B2
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silicon
metal
containing material
catalyst
solvent
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US20080115421A1 (en )
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Mohammad N. Sani
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US Synthetic Corp
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US Synthetic Corp
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    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E21EARTH DRILLING; MINING
    • E21BEARTH DRILLING, e.g. DEEP DRILLING; OBTAINING OIL, GAS, WATER, SOLUBLE OR MELTABLE MATERIALS OR A SLURRY OF MINERALS FROM WELLS
    • E21B10/00Drill bits
    • E21B10/46Drill bits characterised by wear resisting parts, e.g. diamond inserts
    • E21B10/54Drill bits characterised by wear resisting parts, e.g. diamond inserts the bit being of the rotary drag type, e.g. fork-type bits
    • E21B10/55Drill bits characterised by wear resisting parts, e.g. diamond inserts the bit being of the rotary drag type, e.g. fork-type bits with preformed cutting elements with blades having preformed cutting elements mounted on a distinct support, e.g. polycrystalline inserts
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B22CASTING; POWDER METALLURGY
    • B22FWORKING METALLIC POWDER; MANUFACTURE OF ARTICLES FROM METALLIC POWDER; MAKING METALLIC POWDER
    • B22F7/00Manufacture of composite layers, workpieces, or articles, comprising metallic powder, by sintering the powder, with or without compacting wherein at least one part is obtained by sintering or compression
    • B22F7/06Manufacture of composite layers, workpieces, or articles, comprising metallic powder, by sintering the powder, with or without compacting wherein at least one part is obtained by sintering or compression of composite workpieces or articles from parts, e.g. to form tipped tools
    • B22F7/08Manufacture of composite layers, workpieces, or articles, comprising metallic powder, by sintering the powder, with or without compacting wherein at least one part is obtained by sintering or compression of composite workpieces or articles from parts, e.g. to form tipped tools with one or more parts not made from powder
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B24GRINDING; POLISHING
    • B24DTOOLS FOR GRINDING, BUFFING, OR SHARPENING
    • B24D18/00Manufacture of grinding tools or other grinding devices, e.g. wheels, not otherwise provided for
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B24GRINDING; POLISHING
    • B24DTOOLS FOR GRINDING, BUFFING, OR SHARPENING
    • B24D3/00Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents
    • B24D3/02Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents the constituent being used as bonding agent
    • B24D3/04Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents the constituent being used as bonding agent and being essentially inorganic
    • B24D3/06Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents the constituent being used as bonding agent and being essentially inorganic metallic or mixture of metals with ceramic materials, e.g. hard metals, "cermets", cements
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B24GRINDING; POLISHING
    • B24DTOOLS FOR GRINDING, BUFFING, OR SHARPENING
    • B24D3/00Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents
    • B24D3/02Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents the constituent being used as bonding agent
    • B24D3/04Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents the constituent being used as bonding agent and being essentially inorganic
    • B24D3/06Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents the constituent being used as bonding agent and being essentially inorganic metallic or mixture of metals with ceramic materials, e.g. hard metals, "cermets", cements
    • B24D3/10Physical features of abrasive bodies, or sheets, e.g. abrasive surfaces of special nature; Abrasive bodies or sheets characterised by their constituents the constituent being used as bonding agent and being essentially inorganic metallic or mixture of metals with ceramic materials, e.g. hard metals, "cermets", cements for porous or cellular structure, e.g. for use with diamonds as abrasives
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B35/00Shaped ceramic products characterised by their composition; Ceramics compositions; Processing powders of inorganic compounds preparatory to the manufacturing of ceramic products
    • C04B35/515Shaped ceramic products characterised by their composition; Ceramics compositions; Processing powders of inorganic compounds preparatory to the manufacturing of ceramic products based on non-oxide ceramics
    • C04B35/52Shaped ceramic products characterised by their composition; Ceramics compositions; Processing powders of inorganic compounds preparatory to the manufacturing of ceramic products based on non-oxide ceramics based on carbon, e.g. graphite
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B35/00Shaped ceramic products characterised by their composition; Ceramics compositions; Processing powders of inorganic compounds preparatory to the manufacturing of ceramic products
    • C04B35/622Forming processes; Processing powders of inorganic compounds preparatory to the manufacturing of ceramic products
    • C04B35/64Burning or sintering processes
    • C04B35/645Pressure sintering
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C22METALLURGY; FERROUS OR NON-FERROUS ALLOYS; TREATMENT OF ALLOYS OR NON-FERROUS METALS
    • C22CALLOYS
    • C22C1/00Making alloys
    • C22C1/10Alloys containing non-metals
    • C22C1/1036Alloys containing non-metals starting from a melt
    • C22C1/1068Making hard metals based on borides, carbides, nitrides, oxides, silicides
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C22METALLURGY; FERROUS OR NON-FERROUS ALLOYS; TREATMENT OF ALLOYS OR NON-FERROUS METALS
    • C22CALLOYS
    • C22C26/00Alloys containing diamond or cubic or wurtzitic boron nitride, fullerenes or carbon nanotubes
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E21EARTH DRILLING; MINING
    • E21BEARTH DRILLING, e.g. DEEP DRILLING; OBTAINING OIL, GAS, WATER, SOLUBLE OR MELTABLE MATERIALS OR A SLURRY OF MINERALS FROM WELLS
    • E21B10/00Drill bits
    • E21B10/46Drill bits characterised by wear resisting parts, e.g. diamond inserts
    • E21B10/56Button type inserts
    • E21B10/567Button type inserts with preformed cutting elements mounted on a distinct support, e.g. polycrystalline inserts
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B2235/00Aspects relating to ceramic starting mixtures or sintered ceramic products
    • C04B2235/02Composition of constituents of the starting material or of secondary phases of the final product
    • C04B2235/30Constituents and secondary phases not being of a fibrous nature
    • C04B2235/38Non-oxide ceramic constituents or additives
    • C04B2235/3817Carbides
    • C04B2235/3826Silicon carbides
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B2235/00Aspects relating to ceramic starting mixtures or sintered ceramic products
    • C04B2235/02Composition of constituents of the starting material or of secondary phases of the final product
    • C04B2235/30Constituents and secondary phases not being of a fibrous nature
    • C04B2235/42Non metallic elements added as constituents or additives, e.g. sulfur, phosphor, selenium or tellurium
    • C04B2235/422Carbon
    • C04B2235/427Diamond
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B2235/00Aspects relating to ceramic starting mixtures or sintered ceramic products
    • C04B2235/02Composition of constituents of the starting material or of secondary phases of the final product
    • C04B2235/30Constituents and secondary phases not being of a fibrous nature
    • C04B2235/42Non metallic elements added as constituents or additives, e.g. sulfur, phosphor, selenium or tellurium
    • C04B2235/428Silicon
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B2235/00Aspects relating to ceramic starting mixtures or sintered ceramic products
    • C04B2235/60Aspects relating to the preparation, properties or mechanical treatment of green bodies or pre-forms
    • C04B2235/616Liquid infiltration of green bodies or pre-forms
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B2235/00Aspects relating to ceramic starting mixtures or sintered ceramic products
    • C04B2235/70Aspects relating to sintered or melt-casted ceramic products
    • C04B2235/72Products characterised by the absence or the low content of specific components, e.g. alkali metal free alumina ceramics
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B2235/00Aspects relating to ceramic starting mixtures or sintered ceramic products
    • C04B2235/70Aspects relating to sintered or melt-casted ceramic products
    • C04B2235/74Physical characteristics
    • C04B2235/78Grain sizes and shapes, product microstructures, e.g. acicular grains, equiaxed grains, platelet-structures
    • C04B2235/786Micrometer sized grains, i.e. from 1 to 100 micron
    • CCHEMISTRY; METALLURGY
    • C04CEMENTS; CONCRETE; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES
    • C04BLIME, MAGNESIA; SLAG; CEMENTS; COMPOSITIONS THEREOF, e.g. MORTARS, CONCRETE OR LIKE BUILDING MATERIALS; ARTIFICIAL STONE; CERAMICS; REFRACTORIES; TREATMENT OF NATURAL STONE
    • C04B2235/00Aspects relating to ceramic starting mixtures or sintered ceramic products
    • C04B2235/70Aspects relating to sintered or melt-casted ceramic products
    • C04B2235/80Phases present in the sintered or melt-cast ceramic products other than the main phase
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16CSHAFTS; FLEXIBLE SHAFTS; ELEMENTS OR CRANKSHAFT MECHANISMS; ROTARY BODIES OTHER THAN GEARING ELEMENTS; BEARINGS
    • F16C33/00Parts of bearings; Special methods for making bearings or parts thereof
    • F16C33/02Parts of sliding-contact bearings
    • F16C33/04Brasses; Bushes; Linings
    • F16C33/043Sliding surface consisting mainly of ceramics, cermets or hard carbon, e.g. diamond like carbon [DLC]
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F16ENGINEERING ELEMENTS AND UNITS; GENERAL MEASURES FOR PRODUCING AND MAINTAINING EFFECTIVE FUNCTIONING OF MACHINES OR INSTALLATIONS; THERMAL INSULATION IN GENERAL
    • F16CSHAFTS; FLEXIBLE SHAFTS; ELEMENTS OR CRANKSHAFT MECHANISMS; ROTARY BODIES OTHER THAN GEARING ELEMENTS; BEARINGS
    • F16C33/00Parts of bearings; Special methods for making bearings or parts thereof
    • F16C33/02Parts of sliding-contact bearings
    • F16C33/04Brasses; Bushes; Linings
    • F16C33/26Brasses; Bushes; Linings made from wire coils; made from a number of discs, rings, rods, or other members

Abstract

In one embodiment of the present invention, a method of fabricating a superabrasive article is disclosed. A mass of unsintered diamond particles may be infiltrated with metal-solvent catalyst from a metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material to promote formation of a sintered body of diamond grains including interstitial regions. At least a portion of the interstitial regions may also be infiltrated with silicon from a silicon-containing material. The silicon reacts with the sintered body to form silicon carbide within a portion of the interstitial regions.

Description

CLAIM OF PRIORITY

This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/860,098 filed on Nov. 20, 2006 and U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/876,701 filed on Dec. 21, 2006, the disclosures of each of which are incorporated herein, in their entirety, by this reference.

BACKGROUND

Wear-resistant, superabrasive compacts are utilized for a variety of mechanical applications. For example, polycrystalline diamond compacts (“PDCs”) are used in drilling tools (e.g., cutting elements, gage trimmers, etc.), machining equipment, bearing apparatuses, wire-drawing machinery, and in other mechanical systems.

PDCs have found particular utility as superabrasive cutting elements in rotary drill bits, such as roller cone drill bits and fixed cutter drill bits. A PDC cutting element or cutter typically includes a superabrasive diamond layer or table. The diamond table is formed and bonded to a substrate using an ultra-high pressure, ultra-high temperature (“HPHT”) process. The substrate is often brazed or otherwise joined to an attachment member such as a stud or a cylindrical backing. A stud carrying the PDC may be used as a PDC cutting element when mounted to a bit body of a rotary drill bit by press-fitting, brazing, or otherwise securing the stud into a receptacle formed in the bit body. The PDC cutting element may also be brazed directly into a preformed pocket, socket, or other receptacle formed in the bit body. Generally, a rotary drill bit may include a number of PDC cutting elements affixed to the drill bit body.

Conventional PDCs are normally fabricated by placing a cemented-carbide substrate into a container or cartridge with a volume of diamond particles positioned on a surface of the cemented-carbide substrate. A number of such cartridges may be typically loaded into a HPHT press. The substrates and volume of diamond particles are then processed under HPHT conditions in the presence of a catalyst material that causes the diamond particles to bond to one another to form a matrix of bonded diamond grains defining a diamond table. The catalyst material is often a solvent catalyst, such as cobalt, nickel, or iron that is used for facilitating the intergrowth of the diamond particles.

In one conventional approach, a constituent of the cemented-carbide substrate, such as cobalt from a cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide substrate, liquefies and sweeps from a region adjacent to the volume of diamond particles into interstitial regions between the diamond particles during the HPHT process. The cobalt acts as a catalyst to facilitate intergrowth between the diamond particles, which results in formation of bonded diamond grains. Often, a solvent catalyst may be mixed with the diamond particles prior to subjecting the diamond particles and substrate to the HPHT process.

The solvent catalyst dissolves carbon from the diamond particles or portions of the diamond particles that graphitize due to the high temperature being used in the HPHT process. The solubility of the stable diamond phase in the solvent catalyst is lower than that of the metastable graphite under HPHT conditions. As a result of this solubility difference, the undersaturated graphite tends to dissolve into solvent catalyst and the supersaturated diamond tends to deposit onto existing diamond particles to form diamond-to-diamond bonds. Accordingly, diamond grains become mutually bonded to form a matrix of polycrystalline diamond with interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains being occupied by the solvent catalyst.

The presence of the solvent catalyst in the diamond table is believed to reduce the thermal stability of the diamond table at elevated temperatures. For example, the difference in thermal expansion coefficient between the diamond grains and the solvent catalyst is believed to lead to chipping or cracking in the PDC during drilling or cutting operations, which consequently can degrade the mechanical properties of the PDC or cause failure. Additionally, some of the diamond grains can undergo a chemical breakdown or back-conversion with the solvent catalyst. At extremely high temperatures, portions of diamond grains may transform to carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, graphite, or combinations thereof, thus, degrading the mechanical properties of the PDC. Therefore, manufacturers and users of superabrasive materials continue to seek improved thermally stable, superabrasive materials and processing techniques.

SUMMARY

In one embodiment of the present invention, a method of fabricating a superabrasive article is disclosed. A mass of unsintered diamond particles may be infiltrated with metal-solvent catalyst from a metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material to promote formation of a sintered body of diamond grains including interstitial regions. At least a portion of the interstitial regions may also be infiltrated with silicon from a silicon-containing material. The silicon reacts with the sintered body to form silicon carbide within a portion of the interstitial regions.

In another embodiment of the present invention, another method of fabricating a superabrasive article is disclosed. At least a portion of interstitial regions of a pre-sintered-polycrystalline-diamond body may be infiltrated with silicon from a silicon-containing material. At least a portion of metal-solvent catalyst located within the at least a portion of interstitial regions of the pre-sintered-polycrystalline-diamond body may be displaced into a porous mass. The silicon and the pre-sintered-polycrystalline-diamond body are reacted to form silicon carbide within the at least a portion of the interstitial regions. A section of the polycrystalline diamond table so-formed may be removed by a suitable material-removal process so that an upper region of the polycrystalline diamond table includes substantially only silicon carbide within the interstitial regions thereof.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The drawings illustrate several embodiments of the present invention, wherein like reference numerals refer to like or similar elements in different views or embodiments shown in the drawings.

FIG. 1A is a schematic side cross-sectional view of an assembly including a substrate, a porous polycrystalline diamond body, and a silicon-containing material used to fabricate a PDC according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1B is a schematic side cross-sectional view of an assembly including a substrate, a porous polycrystalline diamond body in which a region remote from the substrate contains tungsten carbide, and a silicon-containing material used to fabricate a PDC according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is a schematic side cross-sectional view of the PDC resulting from HPHT sintering of the assembly shown in FIG. 1A.

FIG. 2B is a schematic perspective view of the PDC shown in FIG. 2A.

FIG. 3A is a schematic side cross-sectional view of another assembly that may be used to form a PDC with an annular-shaped cutting region according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 3B is a schematic side cross-sectional view of another assembly that may be used to form a PDC in which silicon infiltrates into a polycrystalline diamond body through sides thereof according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of the PDC resulting from HPHT sintering of the assembly shown in FIG. 3A.

FIG. 5 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of another assembly that may be used to form the PDC shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of another assembly that may be used to form the PDC shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B according to yet another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 7 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of an assembly including a substrate, unsintered diamond particles, a metal-solvent-catalyst material, and a silicon-containing material used to fabricate a PDC according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of the PDC resulting from HPHT sintering of the assembly shown in FIG. 7.

FIG. 9 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of an assembly including a substrate, a silicon-containing material, a diamond table, and porous mass used to fabricate a PDC according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of the resulting structure formed from HPHT sintering of the assembly shown in FIG. 9.

FIG. 11 is a PDC formed by removing a portion of the multi-region structure shown in FIG. 10.

FIG. 12 is a schematic cross-sectional view of an assembly including a substrate, a mass of unsintered diamond particles, and layers of metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material and silicon-containing material disposed between the substrate and the mass of unsintered diamond particles used to fabricate a PDC according to another embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 13 is a schematic side cross-sectional view of the resulting structure from HPHT sintering of the assembly shown in FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is an isometric view of one embodiment of a rotary drill bit including at least one superabrasive cutting element including a PDC configured according to any of the various PDC embodiments of the present invention.

FIG. 15 is a top elevation view of the rotary drill bit of FIG. 14.

FIG. 16 is a graph showing the measured temperature versus linear distance during a vertical turret lathe test on a conventional, leached PDC and a PDC according to working example 2 of the present invention.

FIG. 17 is a graph showing the measured normal force versus linear distance during a vertical turret lathe test on a conventional, leached PDC and a PDC according to working example 2 of the present invention.

FIG. 18 is a graph illustrating the wear flat volume characteristics of a conventional, leached PDC and a PDC according to working example 2 of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Embodiments of the present invention relate to methods of fabricating superabrasive articles, such as PDCs, and intermediate articles formed during fabrication of such PDCs. For example, many different PDC embodiments disclosed herein include a thermally-stable polycrystalline diamond table in which silicon carbide occupies a portion of the interstitial regions formed between bonded diamond grains. The superabrasive articles disclosed herein may be used in a variety of applications, such as drilling tools (e.g., compacts, cutting elements, gage trimmers, etc.), machining equipment, bearing apparatuses, wire-drawing machinery, and other apparatuses. As used herein, the term “superabrasive” means a material that exhibits a hardness exceeding a hardness of tungsten carbide. For example, a superabrasive article is an article of manufacture, at least a portion of which exhibits a hardness exceeding the hardness of tungsten carbide.

FIGS. 1A-2B show an embodiment of a method according to the present invention for fabricating a PDC and the resulting structure of the PDC. As shown in FIG. 1A, an assembly 10 includes an at least partially porous polycrystalline diamond body 14 (i.e., a pre-sintered-polycrystalline-diamond body) positioned adjacent to a substrate 12. The assembly 10 further includes a silicon-containing material 16 positioned adjacent to the polycrystalline diamond body 14 on a side of the polycrystalline diamond body 14 opposite the substrate 12. In one embodiment of the present invention, the silicon-containing material 16 may comprise a green body of elemental silicon particles (e.g., crystalline or amorphous silicon particles) in the form of a tape-casted tape that is placed adjacent to the polycrystalline diamond body 14. In another embodiment of the present invention, the silicon-containing material 16 may comprise a disc of silicon.

Still referring to FIG. 1A, the polycrystalline diamond body 14 includes a plurality of interstitial regions that were previously occupied by metal-solvent catalyst. The polycrystalline diamond body 14 may be fabricated by subjecting a plurality of diamond particles (e.g., diamond particles having an average particle size between 0.5 μm to about 150 μm) to a HPHT sintering process in the presence of a metal-solvent catalyst, such as cobalt, or other catalyst to facilitate intergrowth between the diamond particles to form a polycrystalline diamond table of bonded diamond grains. In one embodiment of the present invention, the sintered diamond grains of the polycrystalline diamond body 14 may exhibit an average grain size of about 20 μm or less. The polycrystalline diamond table so-formed may be immersed in an acid, such as aqua-regia, a solution of 90% nitric acid/10% de-ionized water, or subjected to another suitable process to remove at least a portion of the metal-solvent catalyst from the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond table.

In one embodiment of the present invention, the polycrystalline diamond table is not formed by sintering the diamond particles on a cemented-tungsten-carbide substrate or otherwise in the presence of tungsten carbide. In such an embodiment, the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond body 14 may contain no tungsten and/or tungsten carbide or insignificant amounts of tungsten and/or tungsten carbide, which can inhibit removal of the metal-solvent catalyst.

In other embodiments of the present invention, a polycrystalline diamond table may be formed by HPHT sintering diamond particles in the presence of tungsten carbide. For example, diamond particles may be placed adjacent to a cemented tungsten carbide substrate and/or tungsten carbide particles may be mixed with the diamond particles prior to HPHT sintering. In such an embodiment, the polycrystalline diamond table so-formed may include tungsten and/or tungsten carbide that is swept in with metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate or intentionally mixed with the diamond particles during HPHT sintering process. For example, some tungsten and/or tungsten carbide from the substrate may be dissolved or otherwise transferred by the liquefied metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., cobalt from a cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide substrate) of the substrate that sweeps into the diamond particles. The polycrystalline diamond table so-formed may be separated from the substrate using a lapping process, a grinding process, wire-electrical-discharge machining (“wire EDM”), or another suitable material-removal process. The separated polycrystalline diamond table may be immersed in a suitable acid (e.g., a hydrochloric acid/hydrogen peroxide solution) to remove substantially all of the metal-solvent catalyst from the interstitial regions and form the polycrystalline diamond body 14. However, an indeterminate amount of tungsten and/or tungsten carbide may remain distributed throughout the polycrystalline diamond body 14 even after leaching. The presence of the tungsten and/or tungsten carbide within the polycrystalline diamond body 14 is currently believed to significantly improve the abrasion resistance thereof even after infiltration with silicon and HPHT bonding to the substrate 12, as will discussed in more detail below.

In a variation of the above-described embodiment in which the polycrystalline diamond body 14 has tungsten and/or tungsten carbide distributed therein, the polycrystalline diamond body 14 may comprise a first portion including tungsten and/or tungsten carbide and a second portion that is substantially free of tungsten and/or tungsten carbide. For example, a layer of metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., cobalt) may be positioned between diamond particles and a cemented-carbide substrate (e.g., cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide substrate) and subjected to HPHT conditions. During the HPHT sintering process, metal-solvent catalyst from the layer sweeps through the diamond particles to effect intergrowth and bonding. Because the volume of the layer of metal-solvent catalyst is selected so that it is not sufficient to fill the volume of all of the interstitial regions between the diamond particles, metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate also sweeps in, which may carry or transfer tungsten and/or tungsten carbide. Thus, a first region of the polycrystalline diamond table so-formed adjacent to the substrate includes tungsten and/or tungsten carbide and a second region remote from the substrate is substantially free of tungsten and/or tungsten carbide. The volume of the layer of metal-solvent catalyst may be selected so that the second region exhibits a thickness substantially greater than the second region. In this embodiment, the metal-solvent catalyst within the interstitial regions between bonded diamond grains of the polycrystalline diamond table may be removed from the second region more easily. For example, the metal-solvent catalyst may be leached from the first region using a hydrochloric acid/hydrogen peroxide solution and the metal-solvent catalyst in the second region may be leached using a less aggressive nitric acid/hydrofluoric acid solution. As shown in FIG. 1B, the polycrystalline diamond body 14 so-formed after leaching may be oriented with the second region (shown as 14A) that is substantially free of tungsten and/or tungsten carbide positioned adjacent to the substrate 12 in the assembly 10 and the first region (shown as 14B) that includes tungsten and/or tungsten carbide positioned remote from the substrate 12 to form at least part of a working or cutting region of a PDC that is ultimately formed after processing.

Referring again to FIG. 1A, in another embodiment of the present invention, the polycrystalline diamond body 14 may be formed by sintering diamond particles or other particles capable of forming diamond in response to a HPHT sintering process without a catalyst. For example, U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 11/351,564 and 11/496,905, each of which is incorporated herein, in its entirety, by this reference, disclose that ultra-dispersed diamond particles and fullerenes may be mixed with diamond particles and HPHT sintered to form a polycrystalline diamond body.

The substrate 12 may comprise a cemented-carbide material, such as a cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide material or another suitable material. For example, nickel, iron, and alloys thereof are other metal-solvent catalysts that may comprise the substrate 12. Other materials that may comprise the substrate 12 include, without limitation, cemented carbides including titanium carbide, niobium carbide, tantalum carbide, vanadium carbide, and combinations of any of the preceding carbides cemented with iron, nickel, cobalt, or alloys thereof. A representative thickness for the substrate 12 is a thickness of about 0.100 inches to at least about 0.350 inches, more particularly about 0.150 inches to at least about 0.300 inches, and even more particularly about 0.170 inches to at least about 0.290 inches.

The assembly 10 may be placed in a pressure transmitting medium, such as a refractory metal can, graphite structure, pyrophyllite or other pressure transmitting structure, or another suitable container or supporting element. Methods and apparatuses for sealing enclosures suitable for holding the assembly 10 are disclosed in U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/545,929, which is incorporated herein, in its entirety, by this reference. The pressure transmitting medium, including the assembly 10, is subjected to a HPHT process using an ultra-high pressure press at a temperature of at least about 1000° Celsius (e.g., about 1300° Celsius to about 1600° Celsius) and a pressure of at least 40 kilobar (e.g., about 50 kilobar to about 70 kilobar) for a time sufficient to sinter the assembly 10 and form a PDC 18 as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B. Stated another way, the HPHT bonds the polycrystalline diamond body 14 to the substrate 12 and causes at least partial infiltration of the silicon into the polycrystalline diamond body 14. The HPHT temperature may be sufficient to melt at least one constituent of the substrate 12 (e.g., cobalt, nickel, iron, or another constituent) and the silicon comprising silicon-containing material 16. The PDC 18 may exhibit other geometries than the geometry illustrated in FIGS. 2A and 2B. For example, the PDC 18 may exhibit a non-cylindrical geometry, and the PDC 18 may also include a chamfer along a peripheral region thereof.

As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the HPHT sintered PDC 18 comprises a polycrystalline diamond table 15 that may include three regions: a first region 20, a second-intermediate region 22, and a third region 24. The first region 20 includes polycrystalline diamond with substantially only silicon carbide formed within the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the first region 20. It is noted that the interstitial regions of at least the first region 20 may also include tungsten carbide when tungsten carbide is present in the polycrystalline diamond body 14, such as in the embodiment shown in FIG. 1B. During the HPHT process, silicon from the silicon-containing material 16 liquefies and at least partially infiltrates the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond body 14. The silicon reacts with the diamond grains of the polycrystalline diamond body 14 to form silicon carbide, which occupies the interstitial regions between the diamond grains and bonds to the diamond grains. Further, the amount of the silicon-containing material 16 may be selected so that the silicon of the silicon-containing material 16 fills a selected portion of the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond body 14.

During the HPHT sintering process, metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate 12 or another source also sweeps into the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond body 14 and fills some of the interstitial regions thereof, in addition to silicon carbide filling other interstitial regions as previously described with respect to the first region 20. In one embodiment of the present invention, the second-intermediate region 22 of the polycrystalline diamond table 15 may include polycrystalline diamond with silicon carbide formed within a portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the second-intermediate region 22 and metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., cobalt) occupying another portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the second-intermediate region 22. In another embodiment of the present invention, substantially all of or only a portion of the interstitial regions of the second-intermediate region 22 may include an alloy of silicon and the metal-solvent catalyst, such as a silicon-cobalt solid solution alloy or an intermetallic compound of cobalt and silicon. In yet another embodiment of the present invention, each interstitial region of the second-intermediate region 22 of the polycrystalline diamond table 15 may include one or more of the following materials: silicon carbide, metal-solvent catalyst, silicon, and an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst. The third region 24 includes polycrystalline diamond with substantially only metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., cobalt) occupying the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. The metal-solvent catalyst occupying the interstitial regions of the third region 24 is liquefied and swept into the polycrystalline diamond body 14 from the substrate 12 or another source (e.g., a metal disk, particles, etc.) during the HPHT sintering process. The third region 24 provides a strong, metallurgical bond between the substrate 12 and the polycrystalline diamond table 15. It is noted that at least the first region 20 of the polycrystalline diamond table 15 may be substantially free of non-silicon carbide type carbides, such as tungsten carbide, when the polycrystalline diamond body 14 is not formed in the presence of tungsten carbide.

The PDC 18 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B exhibits an improved thermal stability relative to a conventional PDC in which the interstitial regions of the diamond table are occupied with only cobalt or another metal-solvent catalyst. Additionally, the wear resistance of the PDC 18 may be improved relative to a conventional PDC because the silicon carbide phase occupying the interstitial regions of the first region 20 exhibits a hardness greater than a hardness of cobalt or other metal-solvent catalysts.

Although the assembly 10 shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B includes the substrate 12, in another embodiment of the present invention, the substrate 12 may be omitted. In such an embodiment of the present invention, an assembly of the polycrystalline diamond body 14 and the silicon-containing material 16 may be subjected to a HPHT process to form a polycrystalline diamond table. After the HPHT process, a carbide layer (e.g., a tungsten carbide layer) may be deposited on the polycrystalline diamond table, as disclosed in U.S. Patent Application No. 60/850,969, to form a PDC and enable attaching the PDC to a bit body of a rotary drill bit. U.S. Patent Application No. 60/850,969 is incorporated herein, in its entirety, by this reference. In another embodiment of the present invention, the polycrystalline diamond table may be brazed or otherwise secured to a bit body of a rotary drill bit.

One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that many variations for selectively forming silicon carbide regions within a pre-sintered-polycrystalline-diamond body may be employed. For example, in another embodiment of the present invention, a PDC may be formed with a polycrystalline diamond table including a cutting region exhibiting a selected configuration. The cutting region may comprise bonded diamond grains with silicon carbide within the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. As shown in FIG. 3A, a silicon-containing material 16′ in the form of an annular disc of silicon or amorphous silicon, or an annular, green body of silicon particles in the form of a tape-casted tape may be placed adjacent to the polycrystalline diamond body 14.

As shown in FIG. 4, upon subjecting assembly 10′ to HPHT sintering conditions as described generally hereinabove with respect to the assembly 10, a PDC 18′ is formed with a polycrystalline diamond table 15′ including an annular, cutting region 20′ formed peripherally about an annular, intermediate region 22′ and a third region 24′. The cutting region 20′ comprises bonded diamond grains with substantially only silicon carbide within the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. In one embodiment of the present invention, the intermediate region 22′ comprises bonded diamond grains with silicon carbide within a portion of the interstitial regions and metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate 12 or another source within another portion of the interstitial regions. In another embodiment of the present invention, substantially all of or only a portion of the interstitial regions of the second-intermediate region 22′ includes an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst, such as a silicon-cobalt solid solution alloy or an intermetallic compound of cobalt and silicon. In yet another embodiment of the present invention, each interstitial region of the second-intermediate region 22′ of the polycrystalline diamond table 15 may include one or more of the following materials: silicon carbide, metal-solvent catalyst, silicon, and an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst. The third region 24′ is formed adjacent to the substrate 12 and provides a strong, metallurgical bond between the polycrystalline diamond table 15′ and the substrate 12. The third region 24′ comprises bonded diamond grains with substantially only the metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate 12 or another source within the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. Depending upon the geometry of the silicon-containing material 16′, the geometry of the cutting region 20′ of the polycrystalline diamond table 15′ may also be formed to exhibit other selected geometries.

FIG. 3B shows another embodiment of the present invention in which a silicon-containing material 16″ may be positioned adjacent to at least one peripheral surface 17 of the polycrystalline diamond body 14. HPHT processing causes silicon from the silicon-containing material 16″ to at least partially or substantially infiltrate the polycrystalline diamond body 14. For example, the silicon from the silicon-containing material 16″ may partially infiltrate the polycrystalline diamond body 14 to form a PDC including a multi-region polycrystalline diamond table.

As shown in FIG. 5, in another embodiment of the present invention, the PDC 18 may be formed by subjecting an assembly 21 to HPHT sintering process conditions similar to that employed on the assembly 10. The assembly 21 includes a silicon-containing material 16 positioned adjacent to a substrate 12, and between the substrate 12 and a polycrystalline diamond body 14. During HPHT sintering, the assembly 21 is heated at a sufficient rate so that the metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., cobalt) and the silicon in the silicon-containing material 16 are in a liquid state at substantially the same time. Such heating may cause the molten, metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., from the substrate 12, metal-solvent catalyst mixed with the silicon-containing material 16, or another source) to occupy a portion of the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond body 14 and may cause the molten silicon to occupy other portions of the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond body 14. Upon cooling, the resultant, as-sintered PDC may exhibit a similar multi-region diamond table as the polycrystalline diamond table 15 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B.

FIG. 6 shows another embodiment of the present invention in which a PDC 13 including a leached polycrystalline diamond table 19 and a silicon-containing material 16 are assembled and HPHT sintered using HPHT sintering conditions as described generally hereinabove with respect to the assembly 10. In this embodiment, the PDC 13 may be formed from a conventional PDC with a polycrystalline diamond table that comprises bonded diamond grains with cobalt or another metal-solvent catalyst occupying the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. The metal-solvent catalyst may be substantially removed from the polycrystalline diamond table by leaching using an acid, such as aqua-regia, a solution of 90% nitric acid/10% de-ionized water, or another suitable process to remove at least a portion of the metal-solvent catalyst from the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond table. After removal of the metal-solvent catalyst from the PDC 13, a silicon-containing material 16 may be positioned adjacent to the leached polycrystalline diamond table 19 on a side thereof opposite the substrate 12. The leached polycrystalline diamond table 19 and the silicon-containing material 16 are subjected to a HPHT process to infiltrate the leached polycrystalline diamond table 19 with silicon from the silicon-containing material 16 to form a PDC having a polycrystalline diamond table with the same or similar construction as the polycrystalline diamond table 15 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B.

FIGS. 7 and 8 show another embodiment of a method according to the present invention for forming a PDC. As shown in FIG. 7, an assembly 24 includes a mass of unsintered diamond particles 28 positioned adjacent to the substrate 12. The mass of unsintered diamond particles 28 may be a green body of diamond particles 28 in the form of a tape-casted tape. In one embodiment of the present invention, the diamond particles 28 may exhibit an average particle size of about 20 μm or less. In another embodiment of the present invention, the diamond particles 28 may exhibit an average particle size of about 5 μm to about 50 μm. The mass of unsintered diamond particles 28 may exhibit a thickness, for example, of about 0.150 inches to about 0.200 inches. The assembly 24 further includes a metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 positioned adjacent to the mass of diamond particles 28, and a silicon-containing material 16 positioned adjacent to the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26. The metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 may include or may be formed from a material, such as cobalt, nickel, iron, or alloys thereof. The metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 may also be a green body of metal-solvent-catalyst particles in the form of a tape-casted tape, a thin disc of metal-solvent-catalyst material, or any other suitable metal-solvent-catalyst material or structure, without limitation.

The assembly 24 may be subjected to a HPHT sintering process using HPHT sintering conditions similar to those previously discussed to form a PDC 42 shown in FIG. 8. During HPHT sintering, the metal-solvent catalyst of the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 melts and infiltrates the diamond particles 28 to effect intergrowth between the diamond particles 28. Molten silicon from the silicon-containing material 16 also infiltrates the diamond particles 28 and the infiltration by the molten silicon follows the infiltration of the metal-solvent catalyst. Thus, the metal-solvent catalyst from the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 promotes bonding of the diamond particles 28 to form polycrystalline diamond and the silicon infiltrates the polycrystalline diamond so-formed. The silicon reacts with the diamond grains of the polycrystalline diamond to form silicon carbide within some of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. The amount of the silicon-containing material 16 metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 may be selected so that the silicon of the silicon-containing material 16 and the metal-solvent catalyst from the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26, respectively, only fill a portion of the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline-diamond formed during the HPHT process.

As shown in FIG. 8, the PDC 42 formed by HPHT sintering the assembly 24 includes a multi-region polycrystalline diamond table 35 similar in configuration to the polycrystalline diamond table 15 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B. The polycrystalline diamond table 35 includes: a first region 36, a second-intermediate region 38, and a third region 40. The first region 36 includes substantially only silicon carbide within the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. In one embodiment of the present invention, the second-intermediate region 38 may include silicon carbide within a portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains, along with metal-solvent catalyst from the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 and/or the substrate 12 within other portions of the interstitial regions of the second-intermediate region 38. In another embodiment of the present invention, substantially all of or only a portion of the interstitial regions of the second-intermediate region 38 may include an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst, such as a silicon-cobalt solid solution alloy or an intermetallic compound of cobalt and silicon. In yet another embodiment of the present invention, each interstitial region of the second-intermediate region 38 may include one or more of the following materials: silicon carbide, metal-solvent catalyst, silicon, and an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst. The third region 40, adjacent to the substrate 12, includes substantially only metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate 12 or another source within the interstitial regions thereof for forming a strong, metallurgical bond between the polycrystalline diamond table 35 and the substrate 12.

FIGS. 9-11 show yet another embodiment of a method according to the present invention for forming a PDC. As shown in FIG. 9, an assembly 44 is formed by positioning a silicon-containing material 16 between a substrate 12 and a pre-sintered-polycrystalline diamond table 46. The polycrystalline diamond table 46 may exhibit a thickness of, for example, about 0.090 inches and an average grain size of about 20 μm or less. The polycrystalline diamond table 46 comprises bonded diamond grains sintered using a metal-solvent catalyst, such as cobalt, nickel, iron, or alloys thereof. Accordingly, the polycrystalline diamond table 46 includes bonded diamond grains with the metal-solvent catalyst occupying interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. In one embodiment of the present invention, the polycrystalline diamond table 46 may not be formed by sintering diamond particles in the presence of tungsten carbide so that the interstitial regions of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 contain no tungsten and/or tungsten carbide or insignificant amounts of tungsten and/or tungsten carbide. In other embodiments of the present invention, a portion or substantially the entire polycrystalline diamond table 46 may be formed to include tungsten and/or tungsten carbide distributed therethrough, as previously described with respect to the polycrystalline diamond body 14 shown in FIGS. 1A and 1B. For example, a first region of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 that is substantially free of tungsten and/or tungsten carbide may be positioned adjacent to the silicon-containing material 16, while a second region of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 that includes tungsten and/or tungsten carbide may be positioned remote from the silicon-containing material 16. The assembly 44 further includes a porous mass 48 positioned adjacent to the polycrystalline diamond table 46 on a side of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 opposite the silicon-containing material 16. The porous mass 48 may be unsintered diamond particles, unsintered aluminum oxide particles, unsintered silicon carbide particles, or another suitable porous mass. The porous mass 48 may also be a green body of diamond particles in the form of a tape-casted tape, or any other form, without limitation.

The assembly 44 may be subjected to a HPHT sintering process using sintering conditions similar to the sintering conditions employed on the assembly 10 to bond the various components of the assembly 44 together and to form a polycrystalline diamond structure 50 shown in FIG. 10. During sintering, silicon from the silicon-containing material 16 melts and displaces all or a portion of the metal-solvent catalyst of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 into the porous mass 48. Depending on the sintering temperature, the metal-solvent catalyst of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 may also be partially or completed molten at the same time as the silicon from the silicon-containing material 16. In one embodiment of the present invention, the amount of silicon-containing material 16 is selected so that substantially all of the metal-solvent catalyst of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 is displaced into the porous mass 48. In another embodiment of the present invention, the amount of the silicon-containing material 16 may be selected so that the silicon from the silicon-containing material 16 displaces only a portion of the metal-solvent catalyst of the polycrystalline diamond table 46. The silicon reacts with the diamond grains of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 or another carbon source to form silicon carbide within interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the polycrystalline diamond table 46. Additionally, metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate 12 or another source also melts and infiltrates into a region of the polycrystalline diamond table 46 adjacent the substrate 12.

As shown in FIG. 10, the polycrystalline diamond structure 50 formed by HPHT sintering of the assembly 44 comprises a multi-region polycrystalline diamond table 55 that may include: a first region 52, a second region 54, a third region 56, a fourth region 58, and a fifth region 60. The first region 52 includes the particles from the porous mass 48 with the interstitial regions thereof occupied by substantially only the metal-solvent catalyst displaced from the polycrystalline diamond table 46. The second region 54 includes the particles from the porous mass 48 with the interstitial regions thereof occupied by an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst, such as a silicon-cobalt solid solution alloy or an intermetallic compound of cobalt and silicon. Depending upon the amount of the silicon-containing material 16 employed, the second region 54 may also extend into the HPHT processed polycrystalline diamond table 46. The third region 56, fourth region 58, and fifth region 60 may be formed from the HPHT processed polycrystalline diamond table 46, which exhibits a reduced thickness due to the HPHT processing. The third region 56 includes polycrystalline diamond with substantially only silicon carbide within the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. In one embodiment of the present invention, the fourth region 58 includes polycrystalline diamond with the interstitial regions thereof occupied by an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst, such as a silicon-cobalt solid solution alloy or an intermetallic compound of cobalt and silicon. In another embodiment of the present invention, the fourth region 58 may include polycrystalline diamond with silicon carbide formed within a portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the fourth region 58 and metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., cobalt) occupying another portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the fourth region 58. In yet another embodiment of the present invention, each interstitial region of the fourth region 58 may include one or more of the following materials: silicon carbide, metal-solvent catalyst, silicon, and an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst. The fifth region 60, adjacent to the substrate 12, includes substantially only metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate 12 within the interstitial regions between bonded diamond grains for forming a strong, metallurgical bond between the multi-region polycrystalline diamond table 55 and the substrate 12.

As shown in FIG. 11, after forming the polycrystalline diamond structure 50, a PDC 63 including a multi-region structure 65 similar in configuration to the polycrystalline diamond table 15 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B may be formed by removing the first region 52 and the second region 54 of the multi-region structure 65 using a lapping process, a grinding process, wire EDM, or another suitable material-removal process.

FIGS. 12 and 13 show yet another embodiment of a method according to the present invention for forming a PDC. As shown in FIG. 12, an assembly 59 includes a mass of unsintered diamond particles 62 with a silicon-containing material 16 and a metal-solvent catalyst-containing material 26 positioned between the mass of unsintered diamond particles 62 and a substrate 12. The metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 is positioned adjacent to the mass of unsintered diamond particles 62 and the silicon-containing material 16 is positioned adjacent to the substrate 12. The assembly 59 may be subjected to a HPHT sintering process using sintering conditions similar to the sintering conditions employed on the assembly 10 to form a polycrystalline diamond structure 61 shown in FIG. 13. During HPHT sintering, the silicon-containing material 16 and the metal-solvent catalyst-containing material 26 are melted, and metal-solvent catalyst from the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 infiltrates the mass of unsintered diamond particles 62 to promote bonding between the diamond particles, thus, forming polycrystalline diamond that comprises bonded diamond grains with interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. The silicon from the silicon-containing material 16 follows the infiltration of the mass 62 by the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26 and infiltrates the polycrystalline diamond so-formed. The silicon reacts with the diamond grains to form silicon carbide within some of the interstitial regions.

As shown in FIG. 13, the polycrystalline diamond structure 61 formed by HPHT sintering of the assembly 59 comprises a multi-region polycrystalline diamond table 69 that may include: a first region 64, a second region 65, a third region 66, a fourth region 67, and a fifth region 68. The first region 64 includes polycrystalline diamond with the interstitial regions thereof occupied by substantially only the metal-solvent catalyst from the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material 26. In one embodiment of the present invention, the second region 65 includes polycrystalline diamond with the interstitial regions thereof occupied by an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst, such as a silicon-cobalt solid solution alloy or an intermetallic compound of cobalt and silicon. In another embodiment of the present invention, the second region 65 may include polycrystalline diamond with silicon carbide formed within a portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the second region 65 and metal-solvent catalyst (e.g., cobalt) occupying another portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains of the second region 65. In yet another embodiment of the present invention, each interstitial region of the second region 65 may include one or more of the following materials: silicon carbide, metal-solvent catalyst, silicon, and an alloy of silicon and metal-solvent catalyst. The third region 66 includes polycrystalline diamond with substantially only silicon carbide within the interstitial regions thereof. The fourth region 67 may include a composition and microstructure that is the same or similar to the second region 65. The fifth region 68 adjacent to the substrate 12 includes substantially only metal-solvent catalyst from the substrate 12 or another source within the interstitial regions thereof for forming a strong, metallurgical bond between the multi-region polycrystalline diamond table 69 and the substrate 12. After forming the multi-region polycrystalline diamond table 69, a PDC including a polycrystalline diamond table similar in configuration to the polycrystalline diamond table 15 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B may be formed by removing the first region 64 and the second region 65 using a lapping process, a grinding process, wire EDM, or another suitable material-removal process.

FIGS. 14 and 15 show an isometric view and a top elevation view, respectively, of a rotary drill bit 70 according to one embodiment of the present invention. The rotary drill bit 70 includes at least one PDC configured according to any of the previously described PDC embodiments. The rotary drill bit 70 comprises a bit body 72 that includes radially and longitudinally extending blades 74 with leading faces 76, and a threaded pin connection 78 for connecting the bit body 72 to a drilling string. The bit body 72 defines a leading end structure for drilling into a subterranean formation by rotation about a longitudinal axis 80 and application of weight-on-bit. At least one PDC, fabricated according to any of the previously described PDC embodiments, may be affixed to rotary drill bit 70. As best shown in FIG. 15, a plurality of PDCs 86 are secured to the blades 74. For example, each PDC 86 may include a polycrystalline diamond table 88 bonded to a substrate 90. More generally, the PDCs 86 may comprise any PDC disclosed herein, without limitation. In addition, if desired, in some embodiments of the present invention, a number of the PDCs 86 may be conventional in construction. Also, circumferentially adjacent blades 74 define so-called junk slots 82 therebetween, as known in the art. Additionally, the rotary drill bit 70 includes a plurality of nozzle cavities 84 for communicating drilling fluid from the interior of the rotary drill bit 70 to the PDCs 86.

FIGS. 14 and 15 merely depict one embodiment of a rotary drill bit that employs at least one cutting element that comprises a PDC fabricated and structured in accordance with the disclosed embodiments, without limitation. The rotary drill bit 70 is used to represent any number of earth-boring tools or drilling tools, including, for example, core bits, roller-cone bits, fixed-cutter bits, eccentric bits, bicenter bits, reamers, reamer wings, or any other downhole tool including PDCs, without limitation.

The PDCs disclosed herein may also be utilized in applications other than cutting technology. The disclosed PDC embodiments may be used in wire dies, bearings, artificial joints, inserts, cutting elements, and heat sinks. Thus, any of the PDCs disclosed herein may be employed in an article of manufacture including at least one superabrasive element or compact.

Thus, the embodiments of PDCs disclosed herein may be used on any apparatus or structure in which at least one conventional PDC is typically used. For example, in one embodiment of the present invention, a rotor and a stator (i.e., a thrust bearing apparatus) may each include a PDC according to any of the embodiments disclosed herein and may be operably assembled to a downhole drilling assembly. U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,410,054; 4,560,014; 5,364,192; 5,368,398; and 5,480,233, the disclosure of each of which is incorporated herein, in its entirety, by this reference, disclose subterranean drilling systems within which bearing apparatuses utilizing PDCs disclosed herein may be incorporated. The embodiments of PDCs disclosed herein may also form all or part of heat sinks, wire dies, bearing elements, cutting elements, cutting inserts (e.g., on a roller cone type drill bit), machining inserts, or any other article of manufacture as known in the art. Other examples of articles of manufacture that may use any of the PDCs disclosed herein are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,811,801; 4,274,900; 4,268,276; 4,468,138; 4,738,322; 4,913,247; 5,016,718; 5,092,687; 5,120,327; 5,135,061; 5,154,245; 5,460,233; 5,544,713; and 6,793,681, the disclosure of each of which is incorporated herein, in its entirety, by this reference.

The following working examples of the present invention set forth various formulations for forming PDCs. The following working examples provide further detail in connection with the specific embodiments described above.

Comparative Working Example 1

A conventional PDC was formed from a mixture of diamond particles having an average grain size of about 18 μm. The mixture was placed adjacent to a cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide substrate. The mixture and substrate were placed in a niobium can and HPHT sintered at a temperature of about 1400° Celsius and a pressure of about 5 GPa to about 8 GPa for about 90 seconds to form the conventional PDC. The conventional PDC was acid-leached to a depth of about 70 μm to remove substantially all of the cobalt from a region of the polycrystalline diamond table. The thickness of the polycrystalline diamond table of the PDC was 0.090 inches and a 0.012 inch chamfer was machined in the polycrystalline diamond table. The thermal stability of the conventional PDC so-formed was evaluated by measuring the distance cut in a Sierra White granite workpiece prior to failure without using coolant in a vertical turret lathe test. The distance cut is considered representative of the thermal stability of the PDC. The conventional PDC was able to cut a distance of about only 2000 linear feet in the workpiece prior to failure. Evidence of failure of the conventional PDC is best shown in FIG. 16 where the measured temperature of the conventional PDC during cutting increased dramatically at around about 2000 linear feet and in FIG. 17 where the normal force required to continue cutting also increased dramatically at around about 2000 linear feet.

Working Example 2

A PDC was formed by first fabricating a leached-polycrystalline-diamond body. The leached-polycrystalline-diamond body was formed by HPHT sintering diamond particles having an average grain size of about 18 μm in the presence of cobalt. The sintered-polycrystalline-diamond body included cobalt within the interstitial regions between bonded diamond grains. The sintered-polycrystalline-diamond body was leached using a solution of 90% nitric acid/10% de-ionized water for a time sufficient to remove substantially all of the cobalt from the interstitial regions to form the leached-polycrystalline-diamond body. The leached-polycrystalline-diamond body was placed adjacent to a cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide substrate. A green layer of silicon particles was placed adjacent to the leached-polycrystalline-diamond body on a side thereof opposite the cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide substrate. The leached-polycrystalline-diamond body, cobalt-cemented tungsten carbide substrate, and green layer of silicon particles were placed within a niobium can, and HPHT sintered at a temperature of about 1400° Celsius and a pressure of about 5 GPa to about 7 GPa for about 60 seconds to form a PDC that exhibited a similar multi-region diamond table as the polycrystalline diamond table 15 shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, with silicon carbide formed in a portion of the interstitial regions between the bonded diamond grains. The thickness of the polycrystalline diamond table was about 0.090 inches and a chamfer of about 0.01065 inch was machined in the polycrystalline diamond table.

The thermal stability of the PDC of example 2 was evaluated by measuring the distance cut in a Sierra White granite workpiece without using coolant in a vertical turret lathe test. The PDC of example 2 was able to cut a distance of over 14000 linear feet in a granite workpiece without failing and without using coolant. This is best shown in FIGS. 16 and 17 where the measured temperature (FIG. 16) of the PDC of example 2 during cutting of the workpiece and the normal force required to continue cutting the workpiece (FIG. 17) does not increase dramatically as occurred with the conventional PDC of comparative example 1 during cutting. Therefore, thermal stability tests indicate that the PDC of example 2 exhibited a significantly improved thermal stability compared to the conventional PDC of comparative example 1.

The wear resistance of the PDCs of comparative example 1 and example 2 were evaluated by measuring the volume of the PDC removed versus the volume of a Sierra White granite workpiece removed in a vertical turret lathe with water used as a coolant. As shown in FIG. 18, the wearflat volume tests indicated that the PDC of example 2 exhibited a slightly decreased wear resistance compared to the wear resistance of the PDC of comparative example 1. However, the wear resistance of the PDC of example 2 is still more than sufficient to function as a PDC for subterranean drilling applications. Drop-weight tests also indicated that a PDC fabricated according to example 2 exhibits an impact resistance similar to a conventionally fabricated PDC, such as the comparative example 1. Therefore, the PDC of example 2 exhibited a significantly superior thermal stability compared to the conventional PDC of comparative example 1 without significantly compromising wear resistance and impact resistance.

Although the present invention has been disclosed and described by way of some embodiments, it is apparent to those skilled in the art that several modifications to the described embodiments, as well as other embodiments of the present invention are possible without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. Additionally, the words “including” and “having,” as used herein, including the claims, shall have the same meaning as the word “comprising.”

Claims (10)

1. A method of fabricating a superabrasive article, comprising:
in a high-pressure/high-temperature process, infiltrating a mass of unsintered diamond particles with metal-solvent catalyst from a metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material to promote formation of a sintered body of diamond grains including interstitial regions;
during the high-pressure/high-temperature process, infiltrating at least a portion of the interstitial regions of the sintered body with silicon from a silicon-containing material;
during the high-pressure/high-temperature process, reacting the silicon with the sintered body to form silicon carbide within the at least a portion of the interstitial regions;
prior to the act of infiltrating the mass of unsintered diamond particles with the metal-solvent catalyst from the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material:
positioning the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material between the mass of unsintered diamond particles and the silicon-containing material; and
positioning the silicon-containing material between the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material and a substrate.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein infiltrating the interstitial regions of the sintered body with silicon from a silicon-containing material to form silicon carbide within at least a portion of the interstitial regions comprises:
displacing some of the metal-solvent catalyst with the silicon.
3. The method of claim 1 wherein infiltrating the interstitial regions of the sintered body with the silicon from the silicon-containing material follows infiltrating the mass of unsintered diamond particles with the metal-solvent catalyst.
4. The method of claim 1, further comprising:
after reacting the silicon with the sintered body to form silicon carbide within a portion of the interstitial regions, removing an upper section of the sintered body of diamond grains.
5. The method of claim 1 wherein the mass of unsintered diamond particles comprises a green layer including the unsintered diamond particles.
6. The method of claim 1 wherein the sintered body of diamond particles exhibits an average grain size of about 20 μm or less.
7. The method of claim 1 wherein the sintered body of diamond particles is substantially free of tungsten.
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the sintered body of diamond particles exhibits an average grain size of about 20 μm or less and is substantially free of tungsten carbide.
9. The method of claim 1 wherein the metal-solvent-catalyst material comprises cobalt, nickel, iron, or alloys thereof.
10. A method of fabricating a superabrasive article, comprising:
in a high-pressure/high-temperature process, infiltrating a mass of unsintered diamond particles with metal-solvent catalyst from a metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material to promote formation of a sintered body of diamond grains including interstitial regions;
during the high-pressure/high-temperature process, infiltrating at least a portion of the interstitial regions of the sintered body with silicon from a silicon-containing material;
during the high-pressure/high-temperature process, reacting the silicon with the sintered body to form silicon carbide within the at least a portion of the interstitial regions;
prior to the act of infiltrating the mass of unsintered diamond particles with the metal-solvent catalyst from the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material:
positioning the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material between the mass of unsintered diamond particles and the silicon-containing material; and
positioning the mass of unsintered diamond particles between the metal-solvent-catalyst-containing material and a substrate.
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US12271081 US8080074B2 (en) 2006-11-20 2008-11-14 Polycrystalline diamond compacts, and related methods and applications
US13032350 US8821604B2 (en) 2006-11-20 2011-02-22 Polycrystalline diamond compact and method of making same
US13230125 US8529649B2 (en) 2006-11-20 2011-09-12 Methods of fabricating a polycrystalline diamond structure
US13292491 US9023125B2 (en) 2006-11-20 2011-11-09 Polycrystalline diamond compact
US13953453 US8979956B2 (en) 2006-11-20 2013-07-29 Polycrystalline diamond compact
US14330851 US20140318027A1 (en) 2006-11-20 2014-07-14 Methods of making polycrystalline diamond compacts
US14495759 US9663994B2 (en) 2006-11-20 2014-09-24 Polycrystalline diamond compact
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